Rapid Reaction: Clippers 107, Rockets 94
November, 9, 2013
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
HOUSTON -- The Los Angeles Clippers have constantly said they want their identity to be that of a defensive team. It’s a message they have preached since the first day of training camp.
Identities, however, aren’t forged through words, they are forged through actions, and seven games into the season the Clippers are about as far away from being a defensive team in the league. In fact, they’re the worst defensive team in the league, giving up a league-high 108.3 points per game.
They are, however, an explosive offensive team, scoring a league-high 110.5 points per game.
So maybe the Clippers are just a defensive team masquerading as an offensive team to start the season, or maybe they’re just a team without an identity.
Whatever the case might be, they’re a team that was finally able to win while they figure out exactly what they are, as they beat the Houston Rockets 107-94 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing streak and avoid a winless road trip.
“No, not that I know of,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said when asked if the team had an identity yet. “We’ve proven we can score a lot of points in some games. We’ve actually played some defense for a couple quarters. It will come together. ... I can’t forge an identity on anybody. It always plays out and you figure out what you are.”
As long as the Clippers can win games while they figure out what they are, they are fine without having an identity right now.
“I’ve thought about an identity all of zero seconds,” Rivers said. “I think we have to figure out what we are first.”
How it happened: The old saying about basketball is that it’s a game of runs, and that was certainly the case on Saturday as the Rockets used a 20-4 run to take the lead in the first half, and the Clippers used an 18-0 run to reclaim the lead in the second half. The Clippers’ 27-16 third quarter put them back in control of the game, and they didn’t relinquish it as they pushed their lead to 15 points in the fourth quarter.
What it means: The Clippers staved off a 0-3 road trip, not only salvaging a win against a playoff team but avoiding falling below .500 at this point in the season for the first time since 2010.
Hits: DeAndre Jordan had probably his best game of the season as he returned to his hometown of Houston, recording 12 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. It’s his third double-double of the season and the third time he has had 17 or more rebounds this season. He had only one such game last season.
Misses: Matt Barnes missed his third straight game with a right thigh contusion. While Barnes said he feels a little better every day, it’s still unlikely he will be back by Monday. Barnes’ absence has forced Rivers to juggle his lineup and he has leaned on really only four players off the bench, with Jamal Crawford the only one capable of scoring consistently.
Stat of the game: Chris Paul was 5-for 13 on Saturday and is now 8-for-24 from the field with eight turnovers in his past two games. It’s certainly not the best stretch of basketball Paul has played, but the Clippers were able to split the past two games.
Up next: The Clippers finally return home after their three-game road trip to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Monday. Minnesota has played well to start the season, opening at 4-2, and has one of the top five scoring offenses in the league. The Timberwolves will be playing the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back after facing the Lakers on Sunday.